Lesley Richmond: Tool kit

Lesley Richmond: Tool kit

Welcome to the seventh edition of ‘Tool kit’, a series of articles where we take a look at some of the favourite tools used by professional textile artists. Each item includes a description of the tool itself.

Here’s another look at the series so far:


In this edition we focus on Lesley Richmond whose work appears in collections in the USA, Japan, Poland, Korea and Canada. Lesley tells us about the different tools she uses to create her magnificent pieces.

Item 1 - Wood burning tool

Item 1 – Wood burning tool

Item 1 – Wood burning tool

I use this tool to add finishing touches to the piece, creating negative spaces and perforating areas to produce a more open structure. I can also add scorch marks and texture to areas.

Good ventilation is needed, so I either use fans, the exhaust hood or work outside.

There are several brands available which I’ve bought from hobby and hardware stores. One brand was called Weller.

Coroplast and Donnacona

Item 2 – Donnacona

Item 2 - Coroplast

Item 2 – Coroplast

Item 2 – Coroplast and Donnacona

Coroplast is a channeled plastic board, which I cut to the same size as each piece I make.

As I compose pieces, I can pin them into the coroplast and arrange the elements without having to move them on to a different background afterwards. I can then take the boards and stack them against the wall, or remove them from the work area, so I can work on five or six pieces at one time.

I can cut and tape pieces of coroplast to make the right size as it is very light and easy to cut.

I also use donnacona, a soft, lightweight, compressed board. I put donnacona behind the coroplast on the walls and attach both boards together, with a few screws, into the wall. This gives a surface that is easy to pin work into and I can take the compositions already pinned on each of the single coroplast boards and pin these into the wall.

I use round headed pins, so it doesn’t hurt the fingers push in.

I also use ‘T’ pins for the heavier pieces.

Four by eight feet sheets of both coroplast and donnacona can be bought from lumber stores.

Item 3 - Screens and Therofax Stencil

Item 3 – Screens and therofax stencil

Item 3 – Screens and thermofax stencils

I use both screen printing and thermofax stencil printing to create my images. I take photos with my Sony small, high resolution camera. I put the images on the computer, using Adobe Photoshop.
I then adjust the sharpness, lighting and contrast for a clean image.

I make a photocopy and have the image enlarged and made into a mylar positive. I then take it to a local screen processing company, where they expose it onto a direct-emulsion coated screen.

If I want bigger images and cannot handle any larger screens on my table, I divide the image into parts and have several separate screens made and combine the images after printing.

I use window cleaner squeeges, instead of the proper one, as they are light and I can print with one hand and hold the screen in the other.

I use the theromofax machine quite a lot as this is a very useful tool; although it is old technology and is not easy to fine. It was used to make stencils for handouts in schools.

The thermofax can just be used with a carbon based photocopy, not too dark and a special film so the image burns through the film when it goes through the thermofax to make a simple but sturdy stencil, which I then print with small plastic spatulas.

I use many different products when I print, e.g. devore paste, discharge paste, resist paste, dimensional inks and dye paste. These screens, both the thermofax and silk-screens stand up to countless prints. The silk-screens are now stretched with polyester, not silk.

I buy my screens from Stanley Signs and Screen Company in Vancouver. They also expose my screens.

The thermofax and film come from Welsh Product in the US.

Item 4 - Exhaust hood

Item 4 – Exhaust hood

Item 4 – Exhaust hood

As I often need to get rid of unpleasant fumes from the various processes. I had a kitchen exhaust hood installed in my studio, which vents through the wall to the outside. Mine has double fans and is much more effective than the normal kitchen hoods as it was developed for removing strong odours from spices and oils. The hood is set close to the table so the fumes are extracted before entering the room.

These can be bought from any kitchen appliance store. 

Item 5 - Tables

Item 5 – Tables

Item 5 – Tables

Most important items. I have a home made print table with a wood top, felt, fabric and paper layers, protected by a coroplast sheet for use as an all purpose table. I attached separate legs which are screwed in and are expandable. The print stable is high and study for working standing for the pressure of the printing. I had an even higher table made for me from white metal, which serves as screen and material storage underneath, as well as a higher level work surface, which is easier on the back. My two shorter tables are very versatile. Both sides fold down, so I can get it out of the way when it is not needed. It has wheels on to make this easier; although the wheels tend to drop off now and then! I bought them from a quilting supplier.

The print table is home made. The folding tables come from a company that sells quiliting supplies in Vancouver, called A Great Notion Sewing Supply

Tree Scape - Spanish Banks, Lesley Richmond, 2009

Tree Scape – Spanish Banks, Lesley Richmond, 2009

For more information visit: www.lesleyrichmond.com

Got something to say about the techniques, materials and processes used by this artist – let us know by leaving a comment below.


Friday 02nd, June 2023 / 02:19

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3 comments on “Lesley Richmond: Tool kit”

  1. Lynne B says:

    Just one question. About Item 4 – the exhaust hood. “which vents through the wall to the outside” Are there any filters on this ? Or are fumes simply vented outside ?

  2. Please tell me how you do the trees. What do you used. Very beautiful. Charlene

  3. Beautiful effect and very soft and gentle treatment of light colours on the jangal (trees).
    I love your creative grace .
    Manjusha Ganguly
    Collage artist -India

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